Title: Bartender/bar manager at The Grove Grill
How did you get into bartending? I started working the (Overton) Square right after high school. I walked into Public Eye and started as a busboy. They had an opening for a bartender. I hadn’t done bartending and I didn’t drink. Old-timers who were 22 to 24 would just tell me what goes in the drink and I would make it. I’ve got a real good memory.
What’s the best part of being a bartender? Being a military brat, I’ve lived all over. We’d pull up stakes every nine months, so you had to learn how not to be a stranger. So, I just like meeting all sorts of people.
What’s popular at your bar right now? The whole scene has become “signature cocktail,” that kind of stuff. Just making the most interesting drink you can. I use a lot of fresh herbs in my drinks. Whisky and bourbon, a big resurgence. Making a lot of cocktails with them.
What’s not popular at your bar right now? Not Harvey Wallbangers any more, stuff from the ’70s and ’80s.
Have you ever created a drink? Every day, just about. One that I make that’s real popular is lemon grass-infused vodka muddled with basil and then topped with Prosecco, the Italian Champagne.
What’s your favorite drink (mixed drink, wine or beer?) I drink wine almost exclusively. I’ve got a ton of favorites. Anything that strikes my fancy.
Have you ever waited on any celebrities? I used to wait on Bob Conrad (the actor whose TV work includes ‘The Wild Wild West’) all the time when I was at Houston’s. He married a Memphis girl and used to come in and drink side cars and tell dirty jokes. That was a long time ago; back in the ’80s.
What are some of your other interests? I spend most of my time remodeling property. And I do a lot of carpentry work. Anything aviation related. I’ve been a pilot. I used to work on airplanes. I was a licensed airplane mechanic.
The Grove Grill is at 4550 Poplar; 901-818-9951
Michael Donahue; firstname.lastname@example.org; 901-529-2797